Posted on March 17th, 2016

The Books of Our Lives

True confession: the centerpieces at my Bat Mitzvah were piles of books, and the placecards were library circulation cards. My motto as a child was “American book – never leave home without it.” This love of reading has never failed. I was the college student who made weekly trips to the public library for fiction, and I have always found, even in times of deepest darkness, that I can escape into a novel. Today I lead book discussions and share book lists, and I love to read books of all kinds.

I am so pleased to bring you this month’s ARJEachshav, in which we discuss books! You might learn something about sharing the synagogue’s library with your religious school or how reading has impacted one of our member’s lives. I’m inspired by Americans who can read novels in Hebrew, and I’m always glad to hear about books and writers that bring inspiration to others. I’m really intrigued with the idea of a middle school book group to learn more about Jewish history, and I look forward to thinking of new ways to use books in my work. Thanks to Anne and Laura for playing along with my idea to take on the New York Times’ regular “By the Book” column questions, in what I’m calling “By the Sefer.”

As I put together this newsletter, I set up an online survey for our membership, and while I didn’t get a lot of responses, I was fascinated by the variety and creativity of the bookshelves of our colleagues who did respond. From Jerusalem: A Cookbook to Good Night, Moon; from Reframing Organizations to The Red Tent, there are certainly a lot of different ways that reading impacts our work and our lives.

I hope you enjoy reading this month’s issue of ARJEachshav as much as I enjoyed putting it together, and I hope you find a new book to add to the (probably growing) pile on your nightstand.

P.S. Right now I’m reading Alice Hoffman’s book The Marriage of Opposites for myself and the All-of-A-Kind Family series with my two youngest kids. What are YOU reading?

Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, RJE, is the editor of ARJEachshav.